Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Return to Meadow Lake Park

with 33 comments

On November 15th I returned to Meadow Lake Park in Round Rock to see what the morning light could do for the large stands of bushy bluestem (Andropogon glomeratus) that had caught my eye there but that I hadn’t photographed during my afternoon visit 11 days earlier. This is the showiest of the native grasses I regularly see in central Texas as the end of each year approaches. And speaking of native, that’s what this grass is on damp or wet ground in parts of many American states, as you can confirm on the USDA map (use the slider there to zoom in to the county level).

In the first photograph the light came mostly from in front of the camera,
and in the second photograph mostly from behind the camera.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 29, 2018 at 4:29 PM

33 Responses

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  1. That’s so pretty


    November 29, 2018 at 4:40 PM

    • It is. It’s a wonderful native grass in the fall and we’re fortunate to have it in many places around central Texas.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 29, 2018 at 4:42 PM

  2. Pretty!!

    M.B. Henry

    November 29, 2018 at 5:12 PM

  3. There are some nice bluestem grasses in NY, but I haven’t seen any northern varieties with such nice plumes.

    Robert Parker

    November 29, 2018 at 5:27 PM

    • We have other bluestems here too, the most widespread of which is probably little bluestem. As you say, though, those other bluestems lack the wonderful plumes that this species puts out in the fall. It’s those plumes that have endeared this species to me.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 29, 2018 at 6:14 PM

  4. The first image gives a lovely illusion of a snow dotted landscape.


    November 30, 2018 at 5:44 AM

  5. I love bluestem in the fall. The birds do too.


    November 30, 2018 at 7:14 AM

  6. Very Nice Steven! Love the blue sky surrounding the grasses! Makes them “pop”!

    Reed Andariese

    November 30, 2018 at 2:30 PM

    • To make those tall plumes “pop” against the sky, I leaned way over and had the camera near the ground so I could aim as far upward as I did.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 30, 2018 at 5:33 PM

  7. I absolutely love this grass, and it’s been especially vigorous here this year. The consistent rains we’ve had may have encouraged it. I like the way both bushy bluestem and cattails take on a sepia-like tone when they’re in full fluff. I finally gave in to impulse this year and grabbed a big handful of that bluestem fluff. It was amazingly soft, and it certainly didn’t take much to get it to fly away.


    November 30, 2018 at 9:12 PM

    • The record rains we had here and over by you earlier in the fall may well have contributed to the bushiness of this wonderful grass. I’ve touched the fluff but never followed your example by grabbing a big handful and then releasing it to fly away. I certainly see the similarity to cattail fluff. A bunch of plants in differing botanical plants have followed this model of seed dispersion, and many a nature lover is grateful for that.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 30, 2018 at 9:26 PM

  8. Who would notice that the stem is blue? There is so much more to see in the bloom.


    November 30, 2018 at 9:52 PM

    • I’ve found “blue” to be a poor description of these grasses. Even when the grass is fresh in the spring or early summer I wouldn’t call it blue, and in this drying-out phase the adjective makes even less sense.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 30, 2018 at 10:05 PM

      • It probably refers to something on the stolons than no one would bother to look for. Although blue spruce makes sense, I wonder about white, black and red spruces.


        December 1, 2018 at 9:14 PM

        • When it comes to color names, there’s more than enough strangeness to go around.

          Steve Schwartzman

          December 1, 2018 at 9:16 PM

          • Gads! I worked with hundreds of cultivars of rhododendron. Yes, it gets weird!


            December 1, 2018 at 10:50 PM

  9. Great to see this plant. It’s also found in the Caribbean. I looked up the name in Spanish and it’s: ‘yerba escoba’ or ‘yerba barbuda.’ I like the whites in the first image, as well as the f/ aperture you used, because it has enough DOF to make out the background, but not too much either. They are whites that pick up the light nicely, just the right amount. Great. Now I can spot a common wildflower around here also. I started a ‘Poaceae’ (grass family) category on my blog some time ago, so now I know this one.


    November 30, 2018 at 10:31 PM

    • I also find it great to see and photograph this plant, in fact as recently again as this afternoon. Good to hear you’ve got it in the Caribbean as well, and that its Spanish name there is ‘yerba escoba’ or ‘yerba barbuda.’

      With regard to the first image, part of me wanted to have everything sharp from foreground to background, but that proved impossible, so I had to let the details fade out behind the main plant. I’m pleased another photographer finds the compromise appealing. In the second photograph I made sure to get all the parts of the bushy bluestem in focus.

      Most people, including me, find it difficult to tell many of the grasses apart. Bushy bluestem has the grace to distinguish itself from all the other native species around here and to let us say that for once we know what’s what.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 1, 2018 at 9:26 PM

  10. The top picture makes me think of the phrase ‘painting with light’. I never spared much thought for decorative grasses until I saw a collection of them backlit in an American garden. Since then, I’ve been admiring them more and more.


    December 4, 2018 at 1:33 PM

  11. …the showiest and snowiest!? I had the same impression as some of earlier visitors.


    December 4, 2018 at 7:19 PM

  12. Showiest is right! 😊


    December 5, 2018 at 12:01 AM

  13. […] addition to the bushy bluestem grass that’s a delight here in the fall, little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium) also has its autumn appeal. On the […]

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